The Newtown Pentacle

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 26th of September, one perpetrated a short scuttle around a long set of railroad fence lines. A hurricane was tearing up Florida, and we got lucky hereabouts in terms of spectacular skies for about a week. Eventually, NYC was going to get hit with 6 or 7 dreary rain days due to the weather system, but on the evening of the 26th it was perfect photo weather, so off I went.

A humble narrator crossed Northern Boulevard out of Astoria heading south along 39th street – aka the Harold Avenue truss bridge over Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Progress was made towards “hole reliable,” a surveyor’s POV cut into the steel plate fences of the rail coach yard. There’s actually two holes there, reliable and “hole alright.” The shot above is from the alright one. It’s inferior to reliable because of that metal bar in the foreground. Reliable? Unoccluded!

That’s the Long Island Railroad, heading towards the City, at the Harold Interlocking. This is one of the top ten bits of infrastructure in New York City, in terms of importance on a National level.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An LIRR train set heading eastwards and away from the City.

What makes Harold Interlocking so important is the commuter rail, pictured above, which connects Nassau and Suffolk Counties to the five Boroughs of NYC. What makes it even more important is Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service used to share this route. Amtrak moves north bound trains through a tunnel under the East River, then emerges at Sunnyside Yards, travels through the yards to the New York Connecting Railroad, and then over the Hell Gate Bridge. This Harold Interlocking is one of the strategic pinch points in our National system, which is the sort of thing that should make the Homeland Security crowd unable to sleep at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the wonders which I’ve been privileged to get a LOT of photos of is due to the discovery of Hole Reliable. Since 2009, the East Side Access project has included an incredible amount of construction work at Sunnyside Yards. Part of that has been the addition of additional tracks here at Harold. Yeah, I know, I’m a nerd.

Saying that, a derailed LIRR train no longer shuts down rail traffic on the East Coast of the United States within a couple of hours as Amtrak’s resultant “situation” ripples out of Queens. LIRR service is fairly frequent, and actuaries will describe a predictable number of annual incidents of every type to prepare for – including derails.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scuttled down Skillman Avenue and headed for the 7 train station at Hunters Point Avenue. On my way, yet another LIRR train was spotted, this one heading towards Manhattan.

As mentioned, short walk for me. A constitutional during which I cracked out a bunch of photos. Managed to find about 90 minutes or so to stretch my legs, in the midst of all the tumult back at HQ. Moving is always stressful, and you lose all sense of comfort at home due to constant “have to” and stacks of boxes. Also, there’s always something to do. Never ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 train arrived, one boarded it, and whereas my plan was to linger around Queensboro Plaza for a bit while waiting for the N to arrive, my intended ride was arriving just as I did. Not wanting to look a gift subway in the mouth, I quickly transferred and headed back to HQ.

I had kind of a big thing coming up the next morning, after all.

More on that tomorrow.

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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 25, 2022 at 11:00 am

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